Hejazi Arabic
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Hejazi Arabic
Hejazi Arabic
Hijazi Arabic
West Arabian Arabic
Native toHejaz region, Saudi Arabia
Native speakers
14.5 million (2011)[1]
Early form
Arabic alphabet
Language codes
Distribution of Hejazi Arabic in Saudi Arabia.png
  regions where Hejazi is the language of the majority
  regions considered as part of modern Hejaz region
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Hejazi Arabic or Hijazi Arabic (Arabic: ‎, romanized?ij?z?), also known as West Arabian Arabic, is a variety of Arabic spoken in the Hejaz region in Saudi Arabia. Strictly speaking, there are two main groups of dialects spoken in the Hejaz region,[3] one by the urban population, originally spoken in the major cities of Jeddah, Mecca and Medina, and another by the Bedouin or rural populations. However, the term most often applies to the urban variety which is discussed in this article.

In antiquity, the Hejaz was home to the Old Hejazi dialect of Arabic recorded in the consonantal text of the Qur'an. Old Hejazi is distinct from modern Hejazi Arabic, and represents an older linguistic layer wiped out by centuries of migration, but which happens to share the imperative prefix vowel /a-/ with the modern dialect.


Hejazi Arabic belongs to the western Peninsular Arabic branch of the Arabic language, which itself is a Semitic language. It includes features of both urban and bedouin dialects giving its history between the ancient urban cities of Medina and Mecca and the bedouin tribes that lived on the outskirts of these cities.


Also referred to as the sedentary Hejazi dialect, this is the form most commonly associated with the term "Hejazi Arabic", and is spoken in the urban centers of the region, such as Jeddah, Mecca, and Medina. With respect to the axis of bedouin versus sedentary dialects of the Arabic language, this dialect group exhibits features of both. Like other sedentary dialects, the urban Hejazi dialect is less conservative than the bedouin varieties in some aspects and has therefore shed some Classical forms and features that are still present in bedouin dialects, these include gender-number disagreement, and the feminine marker -n (see Varieties of Arabic). But in contrast to bedouin dialects, the constant use of full vowels and the absence of vowel reduction plus the distinction between the emphatic letters ⟨?⟩ and ⟨?⟩ is generally retained.

Innovative features

  1. The present progressive tense is marked by the prefix /bi/ or ? /ga:?id/ as in /bijidrus/ or ? ? /ga:?id jidrus/ ("he is studying").
  2. The future tense is marked by the prefix /?a/ as in /?ajidrus/ ("he is going to study").
  3. the internal passive form, which in Hejazi, is replaced by the pattern ( /anfa?al/, /jinfa?il/).
  4. The final -n in present tense plural verb forms is no longer employed (e.g. /jirkabu/ instead of /jark?bu:n/).
  5. The dominant case ending before the 3rd person masculine singular pronoun is -u, rather than the -a that is prevalent in bedouin dialects. For example, ? /be:tu/ ("his house"), ? /?indu/ ("he has"), /a?rifu/ ("I know him").
Approximate distribution of Arabic language around the 1st century in Hejaz and Najd

Conservative features

  1. Hejazi Arabic does not employ double negation, nor does it append the negation particles -sh to negate verbs: Hejazi ? /ma: a?rif/ ("I don't know"), as opposed to Egyptian /ma?raf?/ and Palestinian /ba?rafi?/.
  2. The present indicative tense is not marked by any prefixes as in ? /jidrus/ ("he studies"), as opposed to Egyptian .
  3. The prohibitive mood of Classical Arabic is preserved in the imperative: ? /la: tiru:?/ ("don't go").
  4. The possessive suffixes are generally preserved in their Classical forms. For example, /be:takum/ "your (pl) house".
  5. The plural first person pronoun is ? /ni?na/ or ? /i?na/, as opposed to the bedouin ? /nna/ or ? /?nna/.
  6. When used to indicate location, the preposition /fi/ is preferred to /b/. In bedouin dialects, the preference differs by region.
  7. Less restriction on the distribution of /i/ and /u/.
  8. The glottal stop can be added to final syllables ending in a vowel as a way of emphasising.
  9. Compared to neighboring dialects, urban Hejazi retains most of the short vowels of Classical Arabic with no vowel reduction, for example:
? /samaka/ ("fish"), as opposed to bedouin [sm?ka].
/nut?g/ ("pronunciation"), as opposed to bedouin [n?t?g].
/d?arabatu/ ("she hit him"), as opposed to bedouin [ð?rab?tah].
? /waladu/ ("his son"), as opposed to bedouin [wl?dah].
? /?indakum/ ("in your possession" pl.), as opposed to bedouin [nd?kum], Egyptian /?anduku/, and Levantine /?andkon/.


The Arabic of today is derived principally from the old dialects of Central and North Arabia which were divided by the classical Arab grammarians into three groups: Hejaz, Najd, and the language of the tribes in adjoining areas. Though the modern Hejazi dialects has developed markedly since the development of Classical Arabic, and Modern Standard Arabic is quite distinct from the modern dialect of Hejaz. Standard Arabic now differs considerably from modern Hejazi Arabic in terms of its phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon,[4] such diglossia in Arabic began to emerge at the latest in the sixth century CE when oral poets recited their poetry in a proto-Classical Arabic based on archaic dialects which differed greatly from their own.[5]

Historically, it is not well known in which stage of Arabic the shift from the Proto-Semitic pair /q, g/ to Hejazi /g, d/?, ?⟩ occurred, although it has been attested as early as the eighth century CE, and it can be explained by a chain shift /q/* -> /g/ -> /d/[6] that occurred in one of two ways:

  1. Drag Chain: Proto-Semitic g?m /g/ palatalized to Hejazi /d/ j?m first, opening up a space at the position of [g], which q?f /q/ (or /k?/) then moved to fill the empty space resulting in Hejazi /g/ g?f, restoring structural symmetrical relationships present in the pre-Arabic system.[7][8]
  2. Push Chain: Proto-Semitic q?f presumably /q/ (or /k'/) changed to Hejazi /g/ g?f first, which resulted in pushing the original g?m /g/ forward in articulation to become Hejazi /d/ j?m, but since most modern q?f dialects as well as standard Arabic also have j?m, hence the push-chain of q?f to g?f first can be discredited,[9] although there are good grounds for believing that old Arabic q?f had both voiced and voiceless allophones; and after that g?m /g/ was fronted to /d/ j?m, possibly as a result of pressure from the allophones.[10]

* The original value of Proto-Semitic q?f was probably an emphatic not .


In general, Hejazi native phonemic inventory consists of 26 (with no interdental /?, ð/) to 28 consonant phonemes depending on the speaker's background and formality, in addition to the marginal phoneme and two foreign phonemes /p/ ??? and /v/ ??? used by a number of speakers. Furthermore, it has an eight-vowel system, consisting of three short and five long vowels /a, u, i, a:, u:, o:, i:, e:/, in addition to two diphthongs /aw, aj/.[11][12]Consonant length and Vowel length are both distinctive in Hejazi.

The main phonological feature that differentiates urban Hejazi from the neighboring urban and rural dialects of the Arabian peninsula, is the constant use of full vowels and the absence of vowel reduction, for example ? 'we told them', is pronounced [g?lna:lah?m] in Hejazi with full vowels but pronounced with the reduced vowel [?] as [g?lna:l?h?m] in Najdi. In general it also retains the distinction between the letters ⟨?⟩ and ⟨?⟩, but alternates between the pronunciations of the letters ⟨?⟩ ,⟨?⟩, and ⟨?⟩ which is another divergent feature. (See Hejazi Arabic Phonology)

A conservative phonological feature that Hejazi holds is the lack of palatalization for the letters ? /k/, ? /g/ and ? /d/, unlike in other peninsular dialects where they can be palatalized and merged with other phonemes in certain positions[13] e.g. Hejazi ? 'new' [dadi:d] vs Gulf Arabic [j?di:d], it is also worth mentioning that this trait of non-palatalization is becoming common across Saudi Arabia especially in urban centers, another feature is that the ? /l/ is only velarized /?/ in the word ? /a?:a:h/ 'god' (except when it follows an /i/ ? /bismil:a:h/ or /lil:a:h/) and in words derived from it, unlike other peninsular dialects where it might be velarized allophonically, as in pronounced [?a?e?l] in Hejazi but [?a] in other peninsular Arabic dialects.


Phonetic notes:

  • due to the influence of Modern Standard Arabic, has been introduced as an allophone of /?/?⟩ in few words and phrases as in ? ('Cairo') which is phonemically /al'ga:hira/ but can be pronounced as [al'qa:h?ra] or less likely [al'ga:h?ra] depending on the speaker, although older speakers prefer in all positions.
  • the marginal phoneme /?/ only occurs in the word ? /a?:a:h/ ('god') and words derived from it, it contrasts with /l/ in /wa?:a/ ('i swear') vs. /wal:a/ ('or').
  • the affricate /d/?⟩ and the trill /r/?⟩ are realised as a and a tap respectively by a number of speakers or in a number of words.
  • the reintroduced phoneme /?/?⟩ is partially used as an alternative phoneme, while most speakers merge it with /t/ or /s/ depending on the word.
  • the reintroduced phoneme /ð/?⟩ is partially used as an alternative phoneme, while most speakers merge it with /d/ or /z/ depending on the word.
  • the classicized is an optional allophone for ???, but it is always used when pronouncing the letter's name which is ['ð?a:?]. In general, urban Hejazi speakers pronounce it as /z?/ or merge it with /d?/ depending on the word.
  • /p/ ??? and /v/ ??? which exist only in foreign words, are used by a number of speakers and can be substituted by /b/ ??? and /f/ ??? respectively depending on the speaker.
  • [t?] occurs only in foreign words and it is not considered to be part of the phonemic inventory but as a sequence of /t/ ??? and /?/ ???, as in /'t?i:li/ or /t?i:le:/ ('Chile').


Hejazi Arabic vowel chart, from Abdoh (2010:84)
Vowel phonemes of Hejazi
Short Long
Front Back Front Back
Close i u i: u:
Mid e: o:
Open a a:

Phonetic notes:

  • /a/ and /a:/ are pronounced either as an open front vowel or an open central vowel depending on the speaker, even when adjacent to emphatic consonants, except in some words such as ? [alm?:nja] ('Germany'), [ja:b?:n] ('Japan') and ? [b?:b?] ('dad') where they are pronounced with the back vowel .
  • /o:/ and /e:/ are pronounced as true mid vowels and respectively.
  • short /u/ is pronounced allophonically as or in word initial or medial syllables and strictly as at the end of words or before or when isolate.
  • short /i/ is pronounced allophonically as or in word initial or medial syllables and strictly as at the end of words or before or when isolate.
  • the close vowels can be distinguished by tenseness with /u:/ and /i:/ being more tense in articulation than their short counterparts [? ~ o?] and [? ~ e?], except at the end of words.


Most of the occurrences of the two diphthongs /aj/ and /aw/ in the Classical Arabic period underwent monophthongization in Hejazi, and are realized as the long vowels /e:/ and /o:/ respectively, but they are still preserved as diphthongs in a number of words which created a contrast with the long vowels /u:/, /o:/, /i:/ and /e:/.

Example (without diacritics) Meaning Hejazi Arabic Modern Standard Arabic
? league /dawri/ /dawri/
my turn /do:ri/
turn around! /du:ri/ /du:ri/

Not all instances of mid vowels are a result of monophthongization, some are from grammatical processes /ga:lu/ 'they said' -> /ga:lo:laha/ 'they said to her' (opposed to Classical Arabic /qa:lu: laha:/), and some occur in modern Portmanteau words e.g. /le:?/ 'why?' (from Classical Arabic /li?aj/ 'for what' and /?aj?/ 'thing').


Hejazi vocabulary derives primarily from Arabic Semitic roots. The urban Hejazi vocabulary differs in some respect from that of other dialects in the Arabian Peninsula. For example, there are fewer specialized terms related to desert life, and more terms related to seafaring and fishing. Loanwords are mainly of Persian, Turkish, Latin (French and Italian) and English origins, and due to the diverse origins of the inhabitants of Hejazi cities, some loanwords are only used by some families. A number of old loanwords are fading or became obsolete due to the influence of Modern Standard Arabic and their association with lower social class and education,[14] e.g. /kun'de:?an/ "air conditioner" (from English Condition) was replaced by Standard Arabic /mukaj:if/. Most of the loanwords are nouns (with a change of meaning sometimes) as in: ? /dazma/ "shoe" from Turkish çizme /tizme/ originally meaning "boot" or /kubri/ "overpass" from köprü /køpry/ originally meaning "bridge".

Some general Hejazi expressions include /bit:awfi:g/ "good luck", ? /?i:wa/ "yes", /la?/ "no", /lis:a/ "not yet", /?id/ or /?i:d/ "already", ? /da?i:n/ or /da?e:n/ "now", ? /?ab?a/ "I want", ? /law sama?t/ "please/excuse me" to a male and /law sama?ti/ "please/excuse me" to a female.


A common feature in Hejazi vocabulary is portmanteau words (also called a blend in linguistics); in which parts of multiple words or their phones (sounds) are combined into a new word, it is especially innovative in making Interrogative words, examples include:

  • ? (/?i:wa/, "yes") : from (/?i:/, "yes") and ? (/wa/, "and") and ? (/a?:a:h/, "god").
  • (/ma?le:?/, is it ok?/sorry) : from (/ma:/, nothing) and ? (/?alajh/, on him) and (/?aj?/, thing).
  • (/?e:?/, "what?") : from (/aj/, "which") and (/?aj?/, "thing").
  • (/le:?/, "why?") : from (/li?aj/, for what) and (/?aj?/, "thing").
  • (/fe:n/, where?) : from (/fi:/, in) and (/?ajn/, where).
  • ? (/?ile:n/, "until") : from (/?ila:/, "to") and (/an/, "that").
  • ? (/da?i:n/ or /da?e:n/, "now") or ? (/ða?i:n/ or /ða?e:n/, "now") : from (/ða:/, "this") and (/al?i:n/, part of time).
  • (/ba?de:n/, later) : from (ba?d, after) and (?ayn, part of time).
  • or ? (/?ala?a:n/ or /?a?a:n/, "because") : from (/?ala:/, "on") and (/?a?n/, "matter").
  • ? (/kama:n/, "also") : from (/kama:/, "like") and (/?an/, "that").
  • ? (/ja?:a/, come on) : from (/ja:/, "o!") and ? (/a?:a:h/, "god").


The Cardinal number system in Hejazi is much more simplified than the Classical Arabic[15]

numbers 1-10 IPA 11-20 IPA 10s IPA 100s IPA
1 ? /wa:?id/ 11 /i?da?a?/ 10 ? /?a?ara/ 100 /mij:a/
2 /itne:n/ or /i?ne:n/ 12 /it?na?a?/ or /i?na?a?/ 20 /?i?ri:n/ 200 /mijte:n/ or /mij:ate:n/
3 /tala:ta/ or /?ala:?a/ 13 /talatt?a?a?/ or /?ala?t?a?a?/ 30 /tala:ti:n/ or /?ala:?i:n/ 300 /tultumij:a/ or /?ul?umij:a/
4 /arba?a/ 14 ? /arba?t?a?a?/ 40 /arbi?i:n/ 400 /urbu?mij:a/
5 ? /xamsa/ 15 /xamist?a?a?/ 50 /xamsi:n/ 500 /xumsumij:a/
6 /sit:a/ 16 /sitt?a?a?/ 60 ? /sit:i:n/ 600 ? /sut:umij:a/
7 ? /sab?a/ 17 /saba?t?a?a?/ 70 /sab?i:n/ 700 /sub?umij:a/
8 /tamanja/ or /?amanja/ 18 /tamant?a?a?/ or /?amant?a?a?/ 80 /tama:ni:n/ or /?ama:ni:n/ 800 /tumnumij:a/ or /?umnumij:a/
9 ? /tis?a/ 19 /tisa?t?a?a?/ 90 /tis?i:n/ 900 /tus?umij:a/
10 ? /?a?ara/ 20 /?i?ri:n/ 100 /mij:a/ 1000 /alf/

A system similar to the German numbers system is used for other numbers between 20 and above : 21 is ? ? /wa:?id u ?i?ri:n/ which literally mean ('one and twenty') and 485 is ? ? ? ? /urbu?mij:a u xamsa u tama:ni:n/ which literally mean ('four hundred and five and eighty').

Unlike Classical Arabic, the only number that is gender specific in Hejazi is "one" which has two forms ? m. and ? f. as in ? ? /kita:b wa:?id/ ('one book') or ? /saj:a:ra wa?da/ ('one car'), with ? being a masculine noun and a feminine noun.

  • for 2 as in 'two cars' 'two years' 'two houses' etc. the dual form is used instead of the number with the suffix ?n /e:n/ or t?n /te:n/ (if the noun ends with a feminine /a/) as in /kita:be:n/ ('two books') or /saj:arate:n/ ('two cars'), for emphasis they can be said as or .
  • for numbers 3 to 10 the noun following the number is in plural form as in /arba?a kutub/ ('4 books') or ? ? /?a?ara saj:a:ra:t/ ('10 cars').
  • for numbers 11 and above the noun following the number is in singular form as in :-
    • from 11 to 19 an [ar] is added to the end of the numbers as in ? /arba?t?aar kita:b/ ('14 books') or /i?daar saj:a:ra/ ('11 cars').
    • for 100s a [t] is added to the end of the numbers before the counted nouns as in ? /tultumij:at saj:a:ra/ ('300 cars').
    • other numbers are simply added to the singular form of the noun ? ? ? /wa:?id u ?i?ri:n kita:b/ ('21 books').


Subject pronouns

In Hejazi Arabic, personal pronouns have eight forms. In singular, the 2nd and 3rd persons differentiate gender, while the 1st person and plural do not.


Hejazi Arabic verbs, as with the verbs in other Semitic languages, and the entire vocabulary in those languages, are based on a set of three, four also five consonants (but mainly three consonants) called a root (triliteral or quadriliteral according to the number of consonants). The root communicates the basic meaning of the verb, e.g. k-t-b 'to write', '-k-l 'to eat'. Changes to the vowels in between the consonants, along with prefixes or suffixes, specify grammatical functions such as :

  • Two tenses (past, present; present progressive is indicated by the prefix (b-), future is indicated by the prefix (?-))
  • Two voices (active, passive)
  • Two genders (masculine, feminine)
  • Three persons (first, second, third)
  • Two numbers (singular, plural)
  • Two moods (indicative, imperative).

Hejazi Has a single indicative present verb mood instead of the three Classical Arabic present verb moods (indicative , subjunctive , jussive ), it also includes present progressive tense which was not part of the Classical Arabic grammar, and has a two grammatical number in verbs (Singular and Plural) instead of the Classical (Singular, Dual and Plural).

Regular verbs

The most common verbs in Hejazi have a given vowel pattern for past (a and i) to present (a or u or i). Combinations of each exist:

Vowel patterns Example
Past Present
a a ra?am he forgave - yir?am ? he forgives
a u ?arab he hit - yi?rub ? he hits
a i ?asal he washed - yi?sil ? he washes
i a fihim he understood - yifham ? he understands
i i ?irif he knew - yi?rif ? he knows

According to Arab grammarians, verbs are divided into three categories; Past ?, Present and Imperative . An example from the root k-t-b the verb katabt/'aktub 'i wrote/i write' (which is a regular sound verb):

Tense/Mood Past "wrote" Present (Indicative) "write" Imperative "write!"
Person Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
1st ? (katab)-t (katab)-na ? 'a-(ktub) ? ni-(ktub)
2nd masculine ? (katab)-t (katab)-tu ? ti-(ktub) ti-(ktub)-u ? [a]-(ktub) [a]-(ktub)-u
feminine (katab)-ti ti-(ktub)-i [a]-(ktub)-i
3rd masculine (katab) (katab)-u ? yi-(ktub) yi-(ktub)-u
feminine ? (katab)-at ? ti-(ktub)

While present progressive and future are indicated by adding the prefix (b-) and (?-) respectively to the present (indicative) :

Tense/Mood Present Progressive "writing" Future "will write"
Person Singular Plural Singular Plural
1st ? or ba-a-(ktub) bi-ni-(ktub) ? or ?a-a-(ktub) ?a-ni-(ktub)
2nd masculine bi-ti-(ktub) ? bi-ti-(ktub)-u ?a-ti-(ktub) ? ?a-ti-(ktub)-u
feminine bi-ti-(ktub)-i ?a-ti-(ktub)-i
3rd masculine bi-yi-(ktub) ? bi-yi-(ktub)-u ?a-yi-(ktub) ? ?a-yi-(ktub)-u
feminine bi-ti-(ktub) ?a-ti-(ktub)
  • The Active Participles ? /ga:?id/, /ga:?da/ and /ga:?di:n/ can be used instead of the prefix [b-] as in ? ? /ga:?id aktub/ ('i'm writing') instead of / ? /baktub/ / /ba?aktub/ ('i'm writing') without any change in the meaning.
  • when an indirect object pronoun ( , ,...etc.) is added to a present verb or a masculine singular imperative verb that has a long vowel in the last syllable as in ? /?a?i:d/ ('I repeat') or /gu:l/ ('say!'); the vowel is shortened before the suffixes as in ? /?a?idlak/ ('I repeat for you') and /gul:aha/ ('tell her!') with the verbs resembling the Jussive mood conjugation in Classical Arabic
  • the 3rd person past plural suffix -/u/ turns into -/o:/ (long o) before pronouns. as in /katabu/ ('they wrote') -> /katabo:li/ ('they wrote to me'), and /?irfu/ ('they knew') -> /?irfo:ni/ ('they knew me')
  • the verbs highlighted in silver sometimes come in irregular forms e.g. (?abb?)-t "i loved", (?abb?)-na "we loved" but (?abb) "he loved" and (?abb)-u "they loved".

Example: katabt/aktub "write": non-finite forms

Number/Gender Active Participle ? Passive Participle ? Verbal Noun
Masc. Sg. k?tib ? makt?b kit?ba
Fem. Sg. k?tb-a makt?b-a
Pl. k?tb-?n makt?b-?n ?

Active participles act as adjectives, and so they must agree with their subject. An active participle can be used in several ways:

  1. to describe a state of being (understanding; knowing).
  2. to describe what someone is doing right now (going, leaving) as in some verbs like ("i went") the active participle ? ("i'm going") is used instead of present continuous form to give the same meaning of an ongoing action.
  3. to indicate that someone/something is in a state of having done something (having put something somewhere, having lived somewhere for a period of time).

Object pronouns

Enclitic forms of object pronouns are suffixes that are affixed to various parts of speech, with varying meanings:

  • To the construct state of nouns, where they have the meaning of possessive demonstratives, e.g. "my, your, his".
  • To verbs, where they have the meaning of direct object pronouns, e.g. "me, you, him".
  • To verbs, where they have the meaning of indirect object pronouns, e.g. "(to/for) me,(to/for) you, (to/for) him".
  • To prepositions.

Unlike Egyptian Arabic, in Hejazi no more than one pronoun can be suffixed to a word.


  • When a noun ends in a feminine /a/ vowel as in /madrasa/ ('school') : a /t/ is added before the suffixes as in -> /madrasati/ ('my school'), /madrasatu/ ('his school'), ? /madrasatha/ ('her school') and so on.
  • After a word ends in a vowel (other than the /-a/ of the feminine nouns), the vowel is lengthened, and the pronouns in (Parentheses) are used instead of their original counterparts :-
    • the possessive pronouns as in ? /kursi/ ('chair') -> /kursi:/ ('his chair'), /kursi:na/ ('our chair'), /kursi:ki/ ('your chair' f.)
    • the direct object pronouns /la:?agna/ ('we followed') -> ? /la:?agna:/ ('we followed him'), /la:?agna:ki/ ('we followed you' feminine).
    • the indirect object pronouns ? /ru?na/ ('we went') -> ? /ru?na:lu/ ('we went to him').
  • After a word that ends in two consonants, or which has a long vowel in the last syllable, /-a-/ is inserted before the 5 suffixes which begin with a consonant /-ni/, /-na/, /-ha/, /-hom/, /-kom/.
    • the possessive pronouns ? /kita:b/ ('book') -> /kita:baha/ ('her book'), /kita:bahum/ ('their book'), /kita:bakum/ ('your book' plural), /kita:bana/ ('our book').
    • the direct object pronouns ? /?irift/ ('you knew') -> /?iriftani/ ('you knew me'), /?iriftana/ ('you knew us'), /?iriftaha/ ('you knew her'), /?iriftahum/ ('you knew them').
  • only with indirect object pronouns when a verb ends in two consonants as in katabt ? /katabt/ ('i wrote') : an /-al-/ is added before the Indirect object pronoun suffixes -> katabtallu ? /katabtal:u/ ('i wrote to him'), katabtallahum ? /katabtal:ahum/ ('i wrote to them').
  • only with indirect object pronouns when a verb has a long vowel in the last syllable as in ? /aru:?/ ('I go') : the vowel is shortened before the suffixes -> ? /aru?laha/ ('I go to her') with the verbs resembling the Jussive mood conjugation in written Classical Arabic.
  • ^1 the colon between the (Parentheses) indicate that only the vowel is lengthened, since the word-final [h] is silent in this position.
  • ^2 if a noun ends with a vowel (other than the /-a/ of the feminine nouns) that is /u/ or /a/ then the suffix (-ya) is used as in /abu/ ('father') becomes /abu:ja/ ('my father') but if it ends with an /i/ then the suffix (-yya) is added as in /kursij:a/ ('my chair').
  • it is uncommon for Hejazi nouns to end in a vowel other than the /-a/ of the feminine nouns.

Writing system

An Early Qur'anic manuscript written in Hijazi script (8th century AD)

Hejazi is written using the Arabic alphabet; like other varieties of Arabic, Hejazi does not have a standard form of writing and mostly follows Classical Arabic rules of writing.[17] In general people alternate between writing the words according to their etymology or the phoneme used while pronouncing them, which mainly has an effect on the three letters ⟨?⟩ ⟨?⟩ and ⟨?⟩, for example writing ? instead of ? or instead of although this alternation in writing is not considered acceptable by all Hejazi speakers.

Another alternation which is more likely to appear happens when writing words that end in a short vowel /a, u, i/, the writer would choose whether to add a vowel letter ⟨?⟩ ⟨?⟩ or ⟨?⟩ at the end of the word as in ? /inti/ ('you' singular feminine) to differentiate it from /inta/ ('you' singular masculine), or use the Classical form which can be pronounced /inta/ or /inti/, this happens since most word-final short vowels from the Classical Arabic period have been omitted and most word-final unstressed long vowel letters have been shortened in Hejazi. In Arabic handwriting of everyday use, in general publications, and on street signs, short vowels are typically not written, and when needed to be written they are written in a form of diacritics; above the letter for /a/, above the letter for /u/, under the letter for /i/.

The table below shows the Arabic alphabet letters and their corresponding phonemes in Hejazi:

Letter Phonemes (IPA) Example Pronunciation
? (see ⟨?⟩ Hamza). "he asked" /sa?al/
"door" /ba:b/
only when word-final and unstressed (when word-final and stressed it's an ) "we saw", ( m. "this") /'?ufna/, (/'da:/ or /'ða:/)
additional ? silent word-final only in plural verbs and after nunation "they said", "thanks" /ga:lu/, /?ukran/
? "lightning" /barg/
? "berry" /tu:t/
either , merging with ⟨?⟩ or always/in some words as ? "thick" /taxi:n/ or /?axi:n/
or less likely , merging with ⟨?⟩ ? "example" /misa:l/ or /mi?a:l/
? "mobile phone" /daw:a:l/
? "courtyard" /?o:?/
? ? "rag" /xirga/
? "closet" /do:'la:b/
either , merging with ⟨?⟩ or always/in some words as "tail" /de:l/ or /ðe:l/
or , merging with ⟨?⟩ "taste" /zo:g/ or /ðo:g/
? "sand" /ramil/
? "slide" /zu?le:ga/
? ? "fish" /samaka/
? ? "loader" /?e:wal/
? "whistle" /s?u'f:e:ra/
? "molar" /d?irs/
? ? "corridor" /t?urga/
either , merging with ⟨?⟩ or always/in some words as [ð?] "shade" /d?il:/ or [ðl:]
or (distinct phoneme) ? "moment" /la?z?a/ or [la?ð?a]
? "eye" /?e:n/
? ? "crow" /?ura:b/
? "mouth" /fam:/
? "heart" /galb/
? "dog" /kalb/
? (marginal phoneme only in the word ? and words derived from it) "meat", (? "god") /la?am/, (/a?:a:h/)
? ? "water" /mo:ja/
? "people" /na:s/
(silent when word-final in 3rd person masculine singular pronouns and some words) "air", ( "his book", "we saw him") /hawa/, (/kita:bu/, /?uf'na:/)
? ? "rose" /warda/
"wake up!" /fu:g/
"above, up" /fo:g/
only when word-final and unstressed (when word-final and stressed it's either or ) "asthma", ( "is not", "they came") /'rabu/, (/'mu:/, /'do:/)
? "hand" /jad:/
"whites pl." /bi:d?/
"eggs" /be:d?/
only when word-final and unstressed (when word-final and stressed it's either or ) "saudi", ( f. "this") /su'?u:di/, (/'di:/ or /'ði:/)
Additional non-native letters
? (can be written and/or pronounced as a ⟨?⟩ depending on the speaker) ~ "Paul" /po:l/ ~ /bo:l/
? (can be written and/or pronounced as a ⟨?⟩ depending on the speaker) ~ "virus" /vajru:s/ ~ /fajru:s/


  • The classical is an allophone for /g/?⟩ only in few words and phrases e.g. "dictionary" /ga:mu:s/ pronounced [qa:mu:s].
  • /z?/ is spelled ⟨?⟩ only in a number of words from the two trilateral roots ⟨? ? ?⟩ and ⟨? ? ?⟩, as in ("it worked") pronounced /z?abat?/ and not /d?abat?/.
  • ?⟩ is only used at the end of words and mainly to mark feminine gender for nouns and adjectives with few exceptions (e.g. ; a male noun). phonemically It is silent, except when in construct state it is a /t/, which leads to the word-final /-at/. e.g. /risa:la/ 'message' -> ? /risa:lat ?a?mad/ 'Ahmad's message'.
  • ⟩ is silent only word-final in some words and in 3rd person masculine singular pronoun, as in the heteronym pronounced l? /le:/ 'why?' or l? /li:/ 'for him' although the can be added for emphasis, the silent ⟨⟩ also helps in distinguishing minimal pairs with word-final vowel length contrast ? tib?i /tib?i/ 'you want f.' vs. tib?? /tib?i:/ 'you want him f.'.
  • Short vowels are written as diacritics :-
    1. above the letter for /a/.
    2. above the letter for /u/.
    3. under the letter for /i/.

Rural dialects

The varieties of Arabic spoken in the smaller towns and by the bedouin tribes in the Hejaz region are relatively under-studied. However, the speech of some tribes shows much closer affinity to other bedouin dialects, particularly those of neighboring Najd, than to those of the urban Hejazi cities. The dialects of northern Hejazi tribes merge into those of Jordan and Sinai, while the dialects in the south merge with those of 'Asir and Najd. Also, not all speakers of these bedouin dialects are figuratively nomadic bedouins; some are simply sedentary sections that live in rural areas, and thus speak dialects similar to those of their bedouin neighbors.


The dialect of Al-`Ula governorate in the northern part of the Madinah region. Although understudied, it is considered to be unique among the Hejazi dialects, it is known for its pronunciation of Classical Arabic ⟨?/k/ as a ⟨?/?/ (e.g. ? /takðib/ becomes ? /ta?ðib/), the dialect also shows a tendency to pronounce long /a:/ as (e.g. Classical /ma:?/ becomes [me:?]), in some instances the Classical /q/ becomes a as in /qa:jla/ becomes /da:jla/, also the second person singular feminine pronoun /ik/ tends to be pronounced as /i?/ (e.g. ? /ridlik/ ('your foot') becomes ? /ridli?/.[18]


The dialect of Badr governorate in the western part of the Madinah region is mainly noted for its lengthening of word-final syllables and its alternative pronunciation of some phonemes as in ? /su?a:l/ which is pronounced as ? /su?a:l/, it also shares some features with the general urban dialect in which modern standard Arabic /?al:a:da/ is pronounced /tal:a:da/, another unique feature of the dialect is its similarity to the Arabic dialects of Bahrain.

See also


  1. ^ "Arabic, Hijazi Spoken". Ethnologue. Retrieved .
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Hijazi Arabic". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Alzaidi (2014:73)
  4. ^ Watson, Janet (2002). The Phonology and Morphology of Arabic. Oxford university press. pp. 8, 9.
  5. ^ Lipinski (1997). Semitic Languages: Outline of a Comparative Grammar. p. 75.
  6. ^ Cantineau, Jean (1960). Cours de phonétique arabe (in French). Paris, France: Libraire C. Klincksieck. p. 67.
  7. ^ Freeman, Aaron (2015). "The Linguistic Geography of Dorsal Consonants in Syria" (PDF). The Linguistic Geography of Dorsal Consonants in Syria. University of Pennsylvania.
  8. ^ Öhrnberg, Kaj (2013). "Travelling Through Time". Studia Orientalia 114: 524.
  9. ^ Heinrichs, Wolfhart. "Ibn Khald?n as a Historical Linguist with an Excursus on the Question of Ancient g?f". Harvard University.
  10. ^ Blanc 1969: 11, Travelling Through Time, Essays in honour of Kaj Öhrnberg
  11. ^ Abdoh (2010:84)
  12. ^ Omar (1975:xv)
  13. ^ Owens, Owens. The Oxford Handbook of Arabic Linguistics. p. 259.
  14. ^ Alahmadi (2015:45)
  15. ^ Kheshaifaty (1997)
  16. ^ Omar (1975)
  17. ^ Holes, Clive (2004). Modern Arabic: Structures, Functions, and Varieties. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press, Washington D.C. p. 92.
  18. ^ Aljuhani, Sultan (2008). "Spoken Al-'Ula dialect between privacy and fears of extinction. (in Arabic)".


External links

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